12 On the following day a large crowd was coming to the feast; hearing that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem,
13 they took branches from the palm trees and went to meet Him. They shouted out: “Hosanna, blessed is the One Coming in the Name of the Lord, even the King of Israel.”
When John said that the following events took place on the following day, we may wonder which day that was.
Traditionally the following day is regarded as being a Sunday, the first day of the week. This may be because in the church calendar the Sunday before Easter Day is regarded as Palm Sunday, to celebrate the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.
This may well be correct, but we cannot be certain as to which day John is referring. We know that it was six days before the Passover that Mary anointed the feet of Jesus. The chapter reads as though it could have been that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on that day. This is probably unlikely, since it is most likely that the meal He had with Mary, Martha, and Lazarus was an evening meal.
Therefore, we are left to conclude, with no certainty that His triumphal entry into Jerusalem was on the fifth day before the Passover. The other gospels record Jesus departing from Bethphage, which was less than a mile from the temple. Therefore, it is possible it could have been a Sabbath day, since Bethphage would have been within the permitted distance for a Sabbath days travel. Also, Bethany was a designated village for a Sabbath days’ journey for the Passover, and Bethphage was on the road between Bethany to Jerusalem.
The crowds were making their way to the temple, many of whom would have been arriving with plenty of time for them to carry out the rites of purification, as mentioned earlier. It is most likely that Jesus was crucified on Wednesday night, and not Friday. Being the Passover day (14th Nisan) it was a special Sabbath, therefore, it is unlikely to have fallen on the usual Sabbath day, Saturday.
The reason for this is that Jesus said the He would be buried in the earth for three days and three nights (the sign of Jonah). Since Jesus was raised on the first day of the week, three days prior to that brings us to Wednesday evening.
Therefore, His triumphal entry into Jerusalem must have been a few days before the Wednesday, 14th Nisan.
However, none of this gives us a definite day to which John referred when he said: ‘on the next day’.
The important thing for us is that Jesus is our triumphant King, and He leads us in triumph over sin and death – Hallelujah.